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How to buy the USDA recommended 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables for $2.50 per day. It can be done.

By MSN Money Partner Feb 28, 2011 5:53PM

This guest post comes from Kris at Cheap Healthy Good.

 

As part of its 2010 dietary guidelines released last month, the USDA recommended that the average American eat approximately 4.5 cups of produce per day. Broken down a bit more, that's 2.5 cups of vegetables, and 2 cups of fruit. In a study released days later by the USDA's Economic Research Service, researchers concluded all 4.5 cups could be purchased for between $2 and $2.50 per day.

Reactions on one major food blog ranged from supportive ("(I) like that they are promoting the fact that eating healthy doesn't have to expensive.") to skeptical ("Where the hell are they shopping?") to outright critical ("God, the USDA is full of such bull****.").

 

Here's a rundown of what each service costs, and the pros and cons of using them.

By MSN Money Partner Feb 28, 2011 4:57PM

This post comes from April Dykman at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.

 

Sometimes I think that Netflix was the best thing to ever happen to me (er, besides my wonderful husband, of course). You see, when I was a Blockbuster customer, I was notoriously bad about racking up late fees. I would flat-out forget I even had a movie to return. There's no telling how much money I wasted in late fees.

So when Netflix came on the scene, I was elated. Sure, it was another monthly bill, but I didn't have to leave the house to rent movies -- or return them. And these days I can watch every single episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" through the "watch instantly" queue, along with all the foreign and indie films my heart desires. I'm not big on regular TV and don't have cable, so the service allows us to watch the stuff we like, commercial-free.

 

But now there are even more options out there.

 

Smoke a little or smoke a lot -- your unhealthy habit is going to cost you.

By MSN Money Partner Feb 28, 2011 2:59PM

This post comes from Donna Fuscaldo at partner site Insurance.com.

 

Insurance.com on MSN MoneyWhether you are a casual smoker or a habitual one, buying term life insurance is going to cost you more than if you didn't smoke at all.

 

"If you are a smoker you are going to pay close to 50 percent to 65 percent more for life insurance," says Ray Caucci, vice president of product management at Horsham, Pa.-based Penn Mutual.

 

Caucci cites these sobering examples of the impact that smoking has on your annual premium when buying $1 million in coverage for a 10-year term life policy from Penn Mutual:

  • 35-year-old healthy nonsmoker female: $250.
  • 35-year-old healthy smoker female: $1,410.
 

It may surprise you to know that there's nothing illegal about renting out recalled cars without bothering to fix them or tell customers about the risk they're taking.

By MSN Money Partner Feb 28, 2011 2:02PM

This post comes from James R. Hood at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

Any conscientious car owner would respond to a recall notice and have his vehicle fixed right away, right? Well, yes, unless that car owner was a rental fleet.

 

According to a survey commissioned by federal safety regulators, the big three in the rental car business -- Hertz; Enterprise, which owns National and Alamo; and Avis/Budget -- since 2006 have let tens of thousands of drivers go on the road without repairing defects.

 

In your conversations with your inner devil's advocate about your nonessential spending, who is winning?

By MSN Money Partner Feb 28, 2011 11:15AM

This guest post comes from Lindy at Minting Nickels.

 

In a few days my brother-in-law will be e-mailing to tell me I owe him $100.

It's for my annual renewal of Sirius satellite radio.

 

(Note: We share a Sirius account with him, for reasons that are way too boring to discuss here. But sharing an account does save us money. At least I think it does.)

 

I never even considered satellite radio until I borrowed my brother-in-law's car for an extended period of time when we first moved back to Phoenix. But I became a Sirius sucker for life after experiencing a few months of good music sans commercials.

 

Speaking of music, there are umpteen million channels on Sirius satellite radio. The options are endless! So endless, that I only listen to ONE station on Sirius, seriously (you know that pun had to be done).

 

That's right. I pay $100 per year for a single music station. 

 

They're everywhere and they're a problem that won't go away -- unless you fire them, which is another problem.

By doubleace Feb 28, 2011 10:07AM

This post comes from Lynn Mucken of MSN Money.

 

Fifteen percent of American workers show up late for work at least once a week, a new survey says. To which I respond: You gotta be kidding!

 

It's not that I don't believe it. The survey, conducted in late 2010 by Harris Interactive for job-search website CareerBuilder, didn't ask only employees, who probably would lie on the low side, but also employers, who tend to have documentation.

 

My questions are: 1) How do they get away with it? 2) Why do they do it? 3) And -- the biggie -- will they ever change?

 

My answers -- but definitely not the experts' -- are: 1) This is a world of enablers. 2) They are pond scum. 3) Never.

 

You can get these massive meals for free -- and maybe get a prize as well -- if you can force it all down in one sitting.

By Karen Datko Feb 25, 2011 5:46PM

I read Coupon Sherpa's post about 40 restaurant challenges with a mix of horror and delight last year. It's amazing how much some people will try to eat to get that special, oversized meal on the house, plus some bragging rights and perhaps a T-shirt or cash prize.

The Sherpa is back with a new and "improved" list -- more than twice as long. Here are some of the highlights from "Place your bets again: 83 gust-busting restaurant challenges for free food," which is handily broken down state by state. (And lest you think only Americans are willing to make pigs of themselves, there's also an international section.)

 

A central bank proposal would limit nonworking spouses' credit access.

By MSN Money Partner Feb 25, 2011 2:57PM

This post comes from Robert Schmidt at partner site Bloomberg Businessweek.

 

Bloomberg Businessweek on MSN MoneySometimes the best intentions can go awry. Just ask the Federal Reserve, which in its efforts to stop credit card companies from preying on poor people and students has touched off a battle over stay-at-home moms.

 

Charged with writing rules implementing the 2009 law designed to curb credit-card abuses, the Fed late last year proposed that card companies consider "individual" rather than "household" income or assets when issuing cards. The change, say lawmakers who worked on the measure, is meant to prevent banks from issuing credit cards to college students who then run up thousands of dollars in debt and have no ability to pay.

 

The Fed, which has spent most of the financial crisis getting slammed for its lax oversight of consumer credit, took things a step further, interpreting the law to mean that it should keep credit cards out of the hands of anyone without a paycheck or ample personal savings. That, of course, includes spouses who don't work -- husbands in some cases but most often wives. In its November proposal, the Fed said those without an income could get a credit card if a spouse co-signed the application.

 

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